People who practice high-impact martial arts disciplines are susceptible to a variety of orthopaedic injuries. The injury rate is comparable to contact sports such as football and rugby. Sprains and strains are common, as are fractures and contusions of soft tissue and bone.
The most common martial arts injury of the hand, boxer’s fracture, is a fracture of one of the long bones that runs across the top of the hand. Also common are fractures and strains of the wrist which are often seen with beginners who aren’t used to the impact of punching an opponent or a heavy training bag.
Similar injuries include tendinitis, the result of repetitive punching motions, and jammed joints, mainly fingers, from punching improperly or having your strike blocked by an opponent. In judo and wrestling, sprains and hyperextensions can occur during joint manipulation or lock holds.
Treatment and Prevention
Improper technique is often the cause of martial arts injuries. When striking opponents, punching bags, pads or boards with force the entire body must be in alignment, especially the arm. This means connecting with the correct part of the hand, keeping the wrist straight and the elbow close so the force of the impact is absorbed by the body.
We treat soft tissue injures with rest, ice and by elevating the affected area. Injuries to bone surface areas may not display any of the usual visual symptoms, such as discoloration or swelling, but noticeable pain may be the result of small fractures in the bone’s outer layers.
These injuries, as well as serious injuries to soft tissue, may require weeks of treatment to heal and medical advice should be sought immediately. If small fractures or seemingly minor injuries are not treated quickly and appropriately, the possibility exists in later life of developing osteoarthritis or other bone and joint diseases that could lead to severe disability.